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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis

THE POACHER HEADS FOR PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS


WEDNESDAY: September 28, 2022: BRAD Widdup is looking to the future with today’s impressive Rosehill Gardens winner The Poacher.

Ridden by Hugh Bowman, lightly-raced The Poacher ($17) came from near the tail of the field to overpower his rivals in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m).

It was the No Nay Never four-year-old’s third victory from only six starts, but Hawkesbury’s leading trainer isn’t focusing on too many more runs this campaign, if any.

Instead, Widdup has his sights set on next autumn’s Provincial Championships with The Poacher.

“I feel he is the ideal type for that series,” he said en route home this evening.

“Depending on his progress, I may start him one more time before giving him a break.”

The Poacher, the third foal of the Lonhro mare and twice country winner Cascada, fetched $105,000 when sold at the 2019 Magic Millions National weanling sale.

Widdup trains him for Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds, and did not begin racing the gelding until an early three-year-old when he was runner-up to Mayrose in an 1100m Maiden Plate on the Kensington track 12 months ago.

The Poacher, with Bowman aboard, scored first-up on his home track in a Class 1 Handicap (1100m) on August 18 before an out of character failure in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm on September 14.

Willie Pike had the mount then when Bowman partnered first-up winner Democracy Manifest.

“The Poacher played up in the enclosure that day being fresh as he hadn’t raced for a month, and then nothing went right for him in the race (he figured prominently in the stewards’ report),”

Widdup said.

“Hugh (Bowman) had ridden him twice in races before today and also in a trial, so he knows the horse well.”

Whilst The Poacher settled back in the field, he unleashed a sustained burst once Bowman pulled him to the outside on straightening.

Such was the strength of his finish that he was eased down on the post to comfortably defeat Bartoselli ($15) and Land Of Valens ($31).

Stewards subsequently fined Bartoselli’s rider Chad Schofield $400 for using the whip nine times prior to the 100m, four more than permitted under the rules.

The Poacher was Widdup’s 10th winner of the season as he closes in on a career milestone of 250 (currently 247), and understandably looks forward to saddling $1.5m Epsom Handicap favorite Icebath at Royal Randwick on Saturday as his stable star chases a deserved Group 1 breakthrough.

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